Earlier today, journalism guru Jim Romenesko tweeted that a columnist had admitted that he had written a article called ‘Why Teachers Have Sex With Their Students’ because he thought it would get a lot of pageviews.And he was no doubt right about that.
I was certainly curious about the answer to that question, so I clicked on the link. And as I did so, I also thought, “How refreshing–a journalist who actually cares about writing stuff that people want to read. Maybe we should hire him.”
Alas, when I landed on the column, I found that it was just a bait-and-switch–a technique in which someone puts an interesting-sounding headline on a boring article and makes the reader feel duped and annoyed for clicking.
The column was indeed titled “Why Teachers Have Sex With Their Students” (or something close), but then in the first sentence the writer announced that the column was not actually about that topic at all–that he had just titled it that because he thought that would make people read it. And then he went off on one of those snooty sermons about how pedestrian and base Internet readers are for clicking on stories about topics like “Why Teachers Have Sex With Their Students.”
I’ve read enough of those that if I never read another one it will be too soon.
But, still, hoping to learn why teachers have sex with their students (I’m a parent, and as much as I never even want to contemplate this topic, I also don’t want to be in denial about it), I pressed on until the end.
Only to find that the bastard didn’t even answer the question!
So I had to answer the question myself.
I asked Google: “Why do teachers have sex with their students.”
And Google instantly produced links to a bunch of articles on this precise topic.
According to the first couple of articles (no, this was not exhaustive research), here are some common reasons teachers have sex with their students:
- Love. In perhaps the most famous case of a teacher having sex (and kids) with her student, 34-year-old wife and mother Mary Kay Letourneau was thrown in the slammer for the “child rape” of a 13-year old student named Vili Fualaau. Letourneau was let out after 6 months, whereupon she was found in a car having sex with Vili again. Letourneau was sent back to prison for many years. When she got out, she married Vili, with whom, by that point, she had had two kids. They sold the video rights to their wedding for $750,000 and sold a book entitled, “Only One Crime–Love.” The book was published in France, not America.
- Loneliness. According to an article on Oprah’s site, sometimes teachers who have sex with their students are at a difficult place in their lives: “An impending divorce helped push 27-year-old Pamela Rogers into getting intimate with her 13-year-old student in 2004, says Joan Schleicher, a Nashville forensic psychologist who testified in court on her behalf. “She was demoralized and feeling empty inside, and he was the one to whom she could turn her attention.” As the relationship progressed, Rogers (a former homecoming queen now serving an eight-year sentence) began, as many of these women do, to live in a world of “magical thinking,” Schleicher says. “And she responded to that instead of the rules of society.”
- Lust. Again, according to Oprah’s site: “I’ve had cases where a teacher starts out seeing a kid simply to tutor him, but soon they begin talking about their personal lives and what music they like, then they’re listening to iPods together and texting each other, and suddenly it’s like a dating relationship,” says Robert J. Shoop, PhD, director of the Cargill centre for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University and author of Sexual Exploitation in Schools.These teachers have a poor concept of boundaries, so they don’t recognise when they’ve crossed the line into inappropriate behaviour, says Shoop. Even as police handcuffed her, Debra Lafave, the 23-year-old Florida teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student, admitted in an interview that she didn’t feel she’d committed a crime—”I was thinking of [myself] as a young girl who just got caught with her boyfriend.”
- They themselves were sexually abused as kids or had their minds otherwise warped. Again, Oprah: “Such arrested development may result from having been sexually abused themselves as children, says Larry Morris, PhD, a Tucson-based forensic psychologist and author of Dangerous Women: Why Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters Become Stalkers, Molesters, and Murderers.”But most of these women come from conflict-ridden families where they didn’t learn healthy social skills. Many learned to get their emotional needs—for love, attention, approval—met through sexual behaviour.” Once they start teaching, if faced with some kind of serious stressor (marital problems, for example) in addition to the right child sitting in their class, it’s not a far leap to sex offender.”
And then there are some more theories, advanced by writer David Kupelian in this article.
- More time for unsupervised contact, thanks to both parents working. Folks who hang out together unsupervised are apparently more likely to have sex.
- “Cell-phone technology, text messaging and e-mail afford opportunities for teachers and students to communicate privately that didn’t exist a generation ago.” More texting, apparently, leads to more sex.
- “The explosion of hardcore pornography, especially online, has resulted in the exposure of children to graphic sexual images to a far greater degree than at any time in history.” More porn apparently leads to more sex.
Now, all of these reasons and theories, of course, seek to explain the more socially acceptable form of teachers having sex with students, which is women teachers having sex with post-pubescent male students, some of whom apparently consider the experience their “lucky day.”
The other kind of sex with students–the kind perpetrated by serial child-molesters, usually men, some of whom apparently go into teaching as a way to get a steady flow of potential victims–is a whole different discussion (and far more horrifying).
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